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Members' feedback

"I'm finding it shocking and surprising the number of new people joining the community. Let me explain. I was diagnosed with AVN first in both knees back in 2005, over the next few years it was found in both hips and shoulders. I had never come across AVN before and felt like I was the only person with it, I was always having to explain to people what it was."
"Thankfully I found this website and community over a year ago and realised I was not the only one suffering with AVN, it has been such a help talking to fellow sufferers who understand what I am going through."
Text taken from a recent post in our community forum.

Join us

If you are suffering from avascular necrosis AVN Osteonecrosis ON, or are close to someone that is, please consider joining our AVN Charity UK community. You will find many shared experiences about AVN and how it affects each of us differently, importantly there are also excellent success stories about the road to "Pain Free".
We also welcome any health professionals who are involved in any way with Avascular Necrosis AVN, please let us know how you think you can help.

Some known causes of Avascular Necrosis - Osteonecrosis - AVN - ON

Causes of avascular necrosis AVNCauses of avascular necrosis AVNIt is all a bit of a mystery, many times there is no known cause, while others can be attributed to a known cause. Here we try and summarise what is known about avascular necrosis.

Idiopathic or unknown cause

This is all cases of AVN with no known or understood obvious reason. For some reason, the body has become susceptible to the onset and developing of avascular necrosis AVN.

Trauma or Injury

Injury (fracture or dislocation) trauma to a joint can be attributed to the onset of AVN.

Steroid use

Long term steroid use has been proven as one of the main causes for AVN, unfortunately in many of these cases it goes on to develop bi-lateral (both hips or both knees) or in multiple joints through the body. It is thought that AVN from Steroid use accounts for over 50% of all recorded cases. The most common risk factor is the use of oral or IV steroid medications (Corticosteroids such as prednisolone). These medications are typically used for patients with asthma, inflammatory arthritis, Crohn’s disease, severe allergies, spinal cord trauma, and many other disorders. Although there is no absolute risk of developing AVN with use of limited steroids (like short-course steroid dose packs), there have been few reports in the literature of its possible risks.

Alcohol use

A very common risk factor is excessive use of alcohol. The greater the consumption of alcohol, the higher the risk of developing AVN. The exact mechanism of how alcohol (or steroids) causes AVN is not absolutely understood, but it is believed that excessive fatty substances are produced and build up in the very small blood vessels of the bone. Blockage then occurs which decreases blood flow to the femoral head causing bone death.

Sickle cell disease

Some medical conditions, such as sickle cell anaemia or Gaucher's disease, can increase the pressure inside the bone — making it more difficult for fresh blood to enter, with the risk of developing AVN. Normally, your red blood cells are flexible and round, moving easily through your blood vessels. In sickle cell anaemia, the red blood cells become rigid and sticky and are shaped like sickles or crescent moons. These irregularly shaped cells can get stuck in small blood vessels, which can slow or block blood flow and oxygen to parts of the body.

Lamotrigine use

Lamotrigine is a drug used for the treatments of epilepsy and bi-polar disorder, the drug is known as Lamictal and has proven in some cases to be the cause of avascular necrosis AVN.

Radiation therapy

Chemo steroids can contribute to a decreased blood flow to the area involved resulting in the onset of avascular necrosis, however it depends on dose and time.

Because radiation works to destroy cancerous cells through the deprivation of oxygen and vital nutrients, it inevitably destroys normal cells as well, damaging small arteries and reducing circulation. Not an infection itself, it is the bone’s reduced ability to heal and the resulting lesions, pain and fragility. Insufficient blood supply to the irradiated areas decreases the ability to heal and can lead to AVN.

AVN due to cancer treatment

Avascular Necrosis can be a side effect of treatment for several different types of cancer.

The main risk factors for developing AVN as a result of cancer treatment include treatment with:

  • Corticosteroids such as dexamethasone or prednisolone (these remain leading cause of AVN
  • Bisphosphonates
  • Certain types of chemotherapy
  • Radiotherapy to weight-bearing joints and Total Body Radiation
  • Bone Marrow or Stem Cell Transplantation
  • Patients who are being treated for acute myeloid leukaemia, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, lymphomas, testicular cancer, ovarian cancer, breast cancer, and multiple myeloma have an increased risk of developing AVN regardless of the treatment they receive
  • Being older than 10 years old whilst receiving treatment

The period of time from treatment to onset of AVN can vary greatly. Although it is usually diagnosed whilst undergoing cancer treatment, it can rarely be diagnosed years later when symptoms become apparent.

It is important to remember that although AVN can be an unwanted side effect of cancer treatment, it is very important not to discontinue any medication or reduce the dosage without the instruction of your medical team as the medicines that can cause AVN are also very effective at treating cancer.

Gaucher disease

Some medical conditions, such as sickle cell anaemia or Gaucher's disease, can increase the pressure inside the bone — making it more difficult for fresh blood to enter, with the risk of developing AVN. Gauchers disease occurs when certain harmful fatty substances accumulate to excessive levels in your liver, spleen, lungs, bone marrow and, less commonly, brain. This accumulation of fatty material in tissues interferes with how your body works and may cause organ enlargement and bone pain.

Divers decompression sickness

This has proven to contribute to the onset of Avascular necrosis AVN.

Decompression illness, or DCI, is a term used to describe illness that results from a reduction in the ambient pressure surrounding a body. A good example is what happens to your body when you're surfacing after a dive.

DCI encompasses two diseases, decompression sickness (DCS) and arterial gas embolism (AGE). DCS is thought to result from bubbles growing in tissue and causing local damage, while AGE results from bubbles entering the lung circulation, travelling through the arteries and causing tissue damage at a distance by blocking blood flow at the small vessel level.

Lupus - systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)

Lupus (SLE) can affect many parts of the body including joints. Surveys have shown there is approximately 4% risk of contracting Avascular Necrosis AVN.

Ref The Eular Journal

Other causes of Avascular Necrosis AVN

The following conditions may also contribute to the onset of Avascular Necrosis AVN:




Last Updated on Thursday, 12 March 2015 20:23